Feds nab illegal immigrants off SoCal coast - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Feds nab illegal immigrants off SoCal coast

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Federal agents say they chased and stopped a small boat off the San Diego County coast that was packed with nearly two dozen illegal immigrants.

One woman and 21 men, including a suspected smuggler, were detained.

Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Jackie Dizdul says the U.S. Coast Guard spotted the 25-foot panga — a Mexican-style fishing boat — at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday 8 miles west of Leucadia.

Dizdul says the boat fled south but a border protection helicopter spotted it. After a short chase, an interceptor boat stopped it some 14 miles west of La Jolla.

Authorities found 22 Mexican citizens wearing life vests. Dizdul says the man believed to be the smuggler could face criminal charges. The others will be returned to Mexico.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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